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Americana Music Blog

America has been serving up slices of Americana since the mid-19th-century. The genre is an all-encompassing term for a variety of music styles that found their roots in America, including blues, bluegrass, country, and roots-rock. More often than not, Americana is a fusion of one or more forms of roots music, and it is commonly synonymous with folk-based country and singer-songwriter music.

Some of the most iconic Americana artists include Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams and Steve Earl. Steve Earl remains popular to this day; his 2021 album, J.T., was listed as one of the best Americana albums of the year. Other artists that featured alongside Earl on the albums of the year list included Brandi Carlile, John Hiatt, Jack Ingram and Strand of Oaks.

Prior to 2010, Americana was considered a niche genre, yet in a transition that no one anticipated, Americana moved into the mainstream. The artists responsible for pulling the genre into the limelight included The Lumineers, the Avett Brothers, and of course, Mumford & Sons. Despite being a British band, Mumford & Sons became one of the best-selling Americana artists in recent years. They made history when they became the first British band since Coldplay to make it big in the US and sell more than a million albums. Yet, Mumford & Sons held their hands up to admit that without The Lumineers, their success wouldn’t have been possible.

In the late 90s, the Americana Music Association was established in Nashville; and they still have their finger on the pulse to this day. In 2021, they named Black Pumas as the group of the year, Brandi Carlile as the artist of the year and Charley Crockett as the emerging artist of the year. It’s not surprising to see Black Pumas named as one of the Americana artists of the year; the Austin-based act has amassed over 100 million streams with their most popular soul psych song, Colors. They also picked up three Grammy nominations in 2020.

Americana received another uptick in interest with the release of the blockbuster film, A Star is Born, which followed a roots music raconteur (Bradley Cooper) on his quest for fame. Bradley Cooper’s character may have been fictional, but plenty of Americana history and culture was poured into the critically acclaimed film that became an overnight sensation; both Lukas Nelson and Brandi Carlile appeared in the film. It seems that as long as there are artists committed to planting roots of Americana into their music, it will never go out of trend.

Foundry Town Survivors bring in the future of indie-folk with their seminal single, Foundry Town.

Foundry Town

Foundry Town Survivors are bringing in the future of indie-folk by going back to the storytelling roots of the genre and incorporating the production nuances from succeeding eras.Their seminal single, Foundry Town, taken from their new 2021 EP, is a world-weary vignette of the small hometowns that may as well be composed of quicksand for the way they bring you down. And yes, I’m aware that sounds a little cliché, but it’s a sentiment plenty can relate to; even if you grew up in a major metropolitan area, you’ll know how it feels by the time the outro in Foundry Town rolls around.

The yearning for something more, something greater rings through in the gruff Cohen-Esque vocals as the versatile strings pull you through bitter-sweet crescendos and swells of optimism that shimmer in the easy acoustic progressions.

Their new EP is due for release on November 5th. It will be available to stream and download on all major platforms. Check out Foundy Town Survivors on their official website. 

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Only the soulless won’t be spellbound with Mark Lewis Heavenor’s artfully lamenting folk single, Young Boy.

Scottish songwriter, composer and guitarist, Mark Lewis Heavenor has released his most poignant work to date with his morosely gruff art-folk single, Young Boy. While the soundscape paints a quaint sepia-toned ramshackle town in your mind, the music video juxtaposes it by using a soul-sucking British ghost town as a location to place two dancers as they find inspiration despite the lamentable landscape.

Like many artists, Heavenor pulls plenty of inspiration from Tom Waits to create his own artfully rich sound but in every progression, you hear Heavenor push past assimilation into the realm of authentic creation.

The weight of the heavy yet bright vocals crawls under your ribs as you listen to the art-folk instrumentals quiver, rattle and angularly blossom from the fretboard. With the gentleness of Elliott Smith, the lyrical conviction of Kurt Cobain in his more melodious work and the cinematic pull of his Flamenco/Americana Folk guitars, you’d have to be soulless not to be spellbound.

The official video for Young Boy premiered on October 20th; it is a stunner; go check it out on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

 

Azure Wolf delivers strident poetry in their indie power-pop ballad, You Belong to Me.

The Winchester, VA indie rock outfit, Azure Wolf, have released their debut album, Tensions. Within the ten tracks, they have practically covered the entire emotional spectrum.

After starting with the shoegaze masterpiece, Black Fur, which captures the alienation in dissociation, the album flows into affectionately strident poetry with the standout single, ‘You Belong to Me’.

Around the shimmering guitars, Victoria Backle’s vocals pour unadulterated emotion into the mix as she proves what unconditional love looks like in the indie power-pop ballad that leaves you with no question about the authenticity of this ingenuity-powered outfit. With the folk, rock, pop and indie nuances all seamlessly infused, You Belong to Me breathes visceral alchemy.

Azure Wolf’s debut album, Tensions, is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Laurel K Adams has released her artful country-pop crossover single, Dancing in the Eye of a Hurricane.

The 17-year-old singer-songwriter and instrumentalist Lauren K Adams has released her debut alt-county-pop crossover EP, The Introduction. The standout single, Dancing in the Eye of a Hurricane, carries the coveted gravitas of an artist that has dedicated their life to honing in on their craft, but discernibly, the melodies that her poetic lyrics breeze through are as natural as breathing. If you could imagine a hybrid of the best parts of Cohen, Stevie Nicks and Kate Bush, you’ll get close to imagining the ingenuity on offer here.

You’d be seriously hard-pressed to find another up and coming artist with such succinct talent when it comes to capturing the multifaceted complexities of the human experience. The airwaves are an infinitely better place for her debut. The motivation for it goes beyond the yearning for accolades; it stems from the far less factious inclination to empower her listeners.

Dancing in the Eye of a Hurricane is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Olivia Gubel takes us to ‘The Prom’ with her latest acoustic folk-pop ballad.

One of LA’s most promising stars, singer-songwriter Olivia Gubel, has bestowed upon the airwaves an acoustic folk-pop ballad that is uplifting enough to register as celestial.

‘The Prom’ captures the innocence of youth; if you’re currently living it, you will feel the resonance; if those days are long behind you, you’ll get a potently sweet shot of nostalgia while listening to this reflectively sweet single unfold.

At 18-years-old, Olivia already has the musicianship within her to create true connections with fans old and new. Her powerfully poetic lexicon, endlessly magnetic vocals and instantly accessible soundscapes make her a folk-pop triple threat.

The Prom is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Sparks in the Garden have released their swoon-worthy earworm, Let’s Fall in Love Again.

Sparks in the Garden

Sparks in the Garden’s latest pop-rock EP, Trails of Light, comes with an alt-country twang, a sense of soul that makes every single swoon-worthy, and some of the most honed-in talent that we’ve heard this year.

In the standout single, Let’s Fall in Love Again, the folky foot stompin’ rhythms in the verses break into stadium-filling choruses around the indulgently affable lyrics and the 80s rock-style solos that ground the soundscape in gravitas.

The Floridian brother duo has been playing together since 1989, but it wasn’t until 2015 that their sound started to pick up traction. Trails of Light is Sparks in the Garden’s first studio project, we hope there is plenty more in the pipeline.

Let’s Fall in Love Again is now available to stream and purchase via apple music.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Karyn Ann delivers arcane soul in style in her folk single, ‘Wasting Time’

The Portland-based soulstress, Karyn Ann, released her debut album in 2015; after her sophomore album released in 2018, she started to garner critical acclaim and international airplay for her effortlessly powerful vocals and the emotional depth of her lyricism.

Her latest single, Wasting Time, gracefully captures the collective anxiety around watching the sands of time slip while failing to keep hold of anything that brings intrinsic meaning. After we’ve all endured 18 months of lockdown to some degree, Wasting Time is the perfect playlist staple for anyone seeking a little compassion.

The Americana singer-songwriter’s ability to weave a narrative through emotion, poetry and arrestingly minimal melodies is almost unparalleled. We’re fairly certain that this won’t be the last time that Karyn Ann leaves us mesmerised by her almost arcane sense of soul.

Wasting Time is available to stream on SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

The Far North makes compassion worth having with his debut album, Songs for Gentle Souls.

There are far too many things in this world that will tear away at the more affable side of mankind, but The Far North made compassion worth having with the release of their 2020 acoustic folk album, Songs for Gentle Souls.

The standout single, Branches, is a blues-folk serenade that all too efficaciously pulls you into the shimmering accordance of the minimalist soundscape that the 70s style folk-rock vocals soulfully resound within.

While you’d be forgiven for thinking that this sound manifested in Mississippi, The Far North is the solo project of singer-songwriter and guitarist Lee Wylding, hailing from Chester, England. His ethos as an artist is rooted in the roots of folk; his commitment to ensuring every lyric resonates shines through in Branches. We can’t wait to hear more from The Far North.

The Far North’s debut album is available to stream in full on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

 

Layla Frankel evades genre and embodies soul in her standout single, Dear Jennie.

Layla Frankel’s recent releases may evade genre, but they revolve around style and soul. Her standout single, Dear Jennie, is a stunning testament to her effortlessly uplifting sound. With her influences ranging from Bonnie Raitt to Sheryl Crow to Joni Mitchell to Bob Dylan, she found her own voice in between, and what a voice it is.

With the same ABBA-Esque piano chords that allowed the Manic Street Preachers to get to the top of the album charts when they used them in their latest album, The Ultra Vid Lament, Dear Jennie brings just as much euphoria with her complexly layered sound that indoctrinates unpredictable progressions, cathartic crescendos and sheer vocal dynamism.

Dear Jennie is available to stream on SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Franklin Gotham has released their stoically stellar single, Without Being Alone.

Franklin Gotham’s latest single, Without Being Alone, is a tender power-pop embrace that you’ll want to fall into time and time again for the comforting vintage tones, dreamy doo-wop vibes and compassionate lyricism. If you can imagine what Pavement would sound like if they picked up the same romanticism as Syd Barrett, you will be able to get an idea of the sticky-sweet euphoria delivered.

Without Being Alone stoically explores the kind of love that leaves you on the sidelines exploring the infinite possibilities with impassioned impatience. If it’s been a while since you looked at love with rose-tinted glasses, the sweet succinct melodies in this synaesthesia-inducing single will efficaciously remind you.

Without Being Alone is now available to stream and purchase on all major platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast